Colombia’s former agriculture minister was released on $100,000 bail on Thursday as a US court considers a request by the Santos administration to have him extradited to serve a 17-year prison sentence for embezzlement in his home country.
Former Agricultural Minister Andres Felipe Arias was sentenced to prison by Colombia’s Supreme Court in July 2014 for embezzling $25 million in state subsidies intended for poor farmers.
The former minister fled to Miami shortly before the ruling when word leaked of the court’s decision.
Ex-president Alvaro Uribe, who testified in court on behalf of Arias, expressed his happiness over the release on bail and added that, “the truth is that I want to tell Colombians, and all those who believe in Arias, that he is a stand up man.”
Uribe argued in court that the case against Arias is clear political persecution, and that there is no existing extradition treaty between the US and Colombia.
Juan Carlos Pinzon, the Colombian ambassador to the US, also celebrated the former minister’s release on bail, tweeting, “I am especially happy that former minister Andres Felipe Arias can finally reunite with his family. It’s fair.”
After the tweet generated some controversy, Pinzon clarified in an interview with BLU Radio that the sentiment was nothing more than a “personal opinion of joy for Andres and his family, as simple as that.”
Arias had been held in a Miami jail since his arrest on August 24.